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Stress Mastery Questionnaire (SMQ)

The SMQ is a scientifically developed self-assessment tool that provides clear and precise information about how well one is effected by and mastering stress. The SMQ is the best starting point to help you grain a deeper understand of your personal risk from stress broken down by category. It is a self-diagnostic tool that helps identify key behaviors and attitudes that reflect the level of stress you are experiencing. As a result, the SMQ enables you to focus on specifically what to change in order to reduce and master your stressors and teaches you how to make the necessary changes for a better you.

What does the SMQ assess?

While the stress response effect everyone’s bodies and minds, how stress reveals itself varies from person to person. In addition, people tend to adapt to increasing levels of stress and tune-out the warning signs that stress may be a problem. Using 87 psychometrically created questions, the SMQ provides a way to view your personal stress in 3 key areas with 11 unique scales:


•  Hostility/Anger
•  Time Urgency
•  Perfectionism
•  Disappointment
•  Burnout
•  Under-Achievement
•  Tension


•  Physical Stress Effects
•  Life/Work Satisfaction


• Life Events
•  Hassles

What do you get with the SMQ?

The Stress Mastery Program begins with the SMQ assessment taken online. After completing the SMQ, you will receive the following:


Immediately after completing the SMQ online, you will receive feedback on your stress risk scores in the form of a one page Personal Stress Profile. The Profile compares your scores on each of the 11 SMQ scales to the norm group. This summary shows the assigned level of stress risk for each of the scales.


A nine page Detailed Stress Report will then be emailed to you. The Report is used for your personal review and self-exploration. This Report presents your actual responses to the 87 SMQ questions along with your level of stress risk for each major scale. Both the Profile and Report are important tools to providing clear feedback on what behaviors and thinking styles you might change to prevent stress from recurring or to reduce the impact of stress on your body, health and performance.


Armed with the information from the Stress Master Profile and Report, you will then receive a 66 page Stress Mastery Guide and Workbook for your personal use. The Guidesection provides detailed information about each of the 11 SMQ scales along with evidence-based suggestions and recommendations on what to know and what to do to change or modify the underlying behavior or attitude causing stress. The Guide and Workbook can be used many ways; such as as a self-study guide on how to master stress, integrated into a company stress management/mastery training program, or by counselor/coach in a stress coaching session.

In order to facilitate change and personal development, the Workbook section provides specific exercises to follow that helps you explore each of the 11 SMQ scales in greater detail. The workbook also provides a way to journal important concepts, ideas and suggestions gained from the Guide. The intent of the Guide/Workbook is to created sufficient clarity as to the nature and cause of your stress so that a plan for personal development and change can be created. The Workbook highlights each scale’s questions with a place to write in reflections and comments on the meaning of the scale and what you might do to build stress mastery and resilience. At the end of the Guide/Workbook there is a Commitment For Change Form that focuses on the one or two most important things to change. The Guide/Workbook is an effective manual that  helps each person to take the first step toward mastering stress. And all of it is certified by The American Institute of Stress.

About the SMQ Assessment

The SMQ is grounded in evidence-based research on stress by James Petersen, PhD, author of the SMQ, and other notable research psychologists such as Hans Selye, MD (Stress Theory), Friedman and Rosenmann (Type-A Personality), Aaron Beck (Cognitive Restructuring), Albert Ellis (Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy – REBT), Herbert Benson (Relaxation Response) and others.

The SMQ was originally created by Dr. Petersen for use with his clients in his Biofeedback and Stress Management Clinic. The purpose of the SMQ is to help people with chronic stress and stress related disorders develop a clearer view into their responses to their unique life and work stressors. The SMQ was created using standard psychometric techniques with a focus on designing questions that had content and construct validity related to stress.

After a few years of successful use in the clinic, the University of Arizona Medical School requested to use the SMQ in a stress management program called Project Well Aware funded by the Kellogg Foundation. Dr. Petersen was asked to create a shorter version of the SMQ. Through consultation with experts in the field of research psychology, along with a careful review of all questions, a short-form of the SMQ was created and, then, used successfully in the program.

In 1982, Dr. Petersen received a grant from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to conduct a validation study of the SMQ. At the time, there were few valid tools to measure stress available. A research study was designed and the SMQ administered to a stratified random sample of employees from seven different companies. Upon completion of the study, the data were statistically analyzed to determine the validity of the scales using factor analysis, discriminant analysis, and other standard statistical procedures. The result demonstrated the validity of the scales that the current version of the SMQ was created from.


The SMQ is a valid and reliable stress risk assessment tool that can be adapted to any stress management or wellness program. The SMQ was created using standard psychometric test development methodology and subsequently validated through a rigorous year-long study supported by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The SMQ is one of only a few scientifically developed stress risk assessment tools currently available and is recognized as the “gold standard” for use in stress management training, coaching and personal self-development programs. It is the only stress assessment certified by The American Institute of Stress.


The SMQ has met the rigid scientific standards of this American Institute of Stress and has been recognized as a Certified Stress Assessment Product that can be used with confidence by professionals in their stress management and stress mastery training and coaching programs. The AIS Seal and credentials inform the public that the certificate holder commands advanced knowledge of the latest stress research and stress management techniques.


Thousands of people have taken the SMQ with a 100% Approval Rating and excellent results. A variety of professionals, such as psychologists, physicians, training and development experts, counselors, social workers, wellness and health coaches and many others are using the SMQ and the Stress Mastery Program to help solve the global stress problem; here is what they are saying …


“I just took the assessment and I think it is great! It was simple, didn’t take too long, and easy to understand. I really liked the [Stress Mastery] Guide as well, especially the Commitment for Change Section, as many of the clients we work with have difficulty with follow through. I will be presenting this to occupational therapists and social workers. Thank you very much.”  — YN, OTS

“I have been reading my “Highs” (scores on the SMQ) and I thank you for hitting it on the head. My Anger, Time Urgency, Tension highs describe me perfectly. I will be using this info taking to my group counseling sessions for discussion and input.”  — B.F. in New Port Richey

“I would just like to recommend the Stress Management Questionnaire (SMQ) as a key organizational tool to help employers to effectively identify and help manage stress within the workplace. Dr. Peterson has developed a comprehensive stress questionnaire that provides users with a comprehensive analysis and report that enables the participant to gain a greater understanding of potential triggers of stress within their lives that can be used to develop an effective stress management action plan to improve their overall health & wellbeing.”  — P.B Wellness Provider, UK

“On a personal note, I have found the SMQ to be a robust informative tool based on sound theory and practice. I am definitely an advocate of the Stressmaster philosophy!”   J.L., UK Consultancy